Last dinner in Chiang Mai – River Market Restauarnt

14 Jan

For my last night in Chiang Mai, I went to visit the River Market restaurant (http://therivermarket.com/blog/) .  Their menu can be found on the site.

I would rate this restaurant at 6 or 7 out of 10.  I would qualify this by saying that with some small tweaks, this could easily improve to 9 and perhaps if I had gone on a different day, I would, even now, have rated it as 9.

The Setting
Let’s start with the setting. The restaurant is along the Ping River and we apparently got the best table on the night we arrived. The chef spoke to us and said that he will only take reservations before 7 o’clock, which allows everyone a fair chance of getting a good (or in our case) a great table. We had amazing views of the bridge over the Ping river which was lit and we were far enough away not to be disturbed by traffic noises. The restaurant itself is brightly lit with large grass garden which leads down to the river.

The River Market Restaurant

The River Market Restaurant

The Ping River Bridge

The Ping River Bridge

The Service
The service was pretty slow, with starters being forgotten and brought with the mains – Now this is normal in Thailand – eating all the dishes when ready but the menu specifically requests that you say whether you would like the dishes to come in order or not. We requested that they do.

The Food
We had the Garlic Chicken Wings, Son-in-law Thai deviled eggs and Crispy Banana Flower salad to start. For the mains, we had crispy snapper and salt and pepper shrimp.

The crispy banana salad was excellent, with very crispy deep-fried banana flowers, which had a good taste of ripe banana without the sweetness. The dressing had a hint of molasses without the usually heavy taste that accompanies the black-strap variety. 9 out of 10.

Crispy Banana Salad

Crispy Banana Salad

The chicken wings were almost excellent. The skin was crispy, as it should be but often isn’t, without the heavy floured texture that you can sometimes get. The dressing that came with it was so delicious that we asked for more and then ate it with everything else. So why not perfect? To my mind, chicken wings should never be under-cooked. They shouldn’t even be ‘just’ cooked. That should be left for chicken breasts which will get tough and leathery with too much cooking. Wings, legs and thighs do most of the work keeping a chicken up and moving and therefore can be tougher. Like most tough meats, they improve when cooked a bit longer. The wings weren’t cooked long enough, which made them sort of sickening to eat. Cook them longer the dish would pretty much be close to a ten. An irritating 4 out of 10.

Son In Law Eggs, or ‘khai luuk kheuy’, refers to a salad made from deep-fried hard boiled eggs, which have been cut into halves or quarters, and topped with a sour & sweet tamarind sauce and fried shallots. I include what looks like a fairly decent recipe here:

http://www.realthairecipes.com/recipes/son-in-law-eggs/

I have seen these cooked so that the eggs are soft boiled and you get a creamy runny yoke. Since I am not a fan of eggs but Malcolm is, I recommended the son-in-law eggs to him. Now Malcolm found them tasty but couldn’t see how they were meant to be devilled as they were not at all hot, just slightly sweet. Devilled implies hot, which these definitely weren’t. What we had were straight-up seventies-style stuffed eggs with a sweetish tamarind sauce on top with stingy amounts of deep fried shallots. Malcolm liked them so I won’t complain about them too much. Let’s give them 7.5.

There was not too much to say about the mains – the snapper was very tasty and the dish had been twisted from the traditional version, in which the whole snapper is deep fried, including head and bones. I would have preferred the whole snapper but I could see why many wouldn’t. 8. The salt and pepper shrimp were decent but probably not peppery enough for our tastes. 7.

Now to the desserts. I had coconut and passion fruit ice-creams, which were both lovely and light – almost sorbet-y – 9. Despite my objections, Malcolm had the blueberry cheesecake. It was awful! The topping was brown in colour and hardly distinguishable from the base, which was soggy and of variable thickness. It was served with that nasty ready-whipped cream that comes out of a can. I had to stop myself from giggling and saying “I told you so!”. Disgusting – 0 (I’d really like to give them a negative rating but that would be wrong). This could easily be sorted by taking the cheesecake off of the dessert menu – better to stick to the ice-creams and have a simple but good dessert menu.
I know it may not sound like it but I liked this restaurant – there were a wide range of Thai dishes, not just the standard stuff and the dishes sounded really exciting – I wanted to try several. Let’s hope this was an off day.

2 Responses to “Last dinner in Chiang Mai – River Market Restauarnt”

  1. camille January 14, 2013 at 11:01 am #

    Nicky, I can’t see the bridge 😦
    The Crispy Banana Salad looks yummy!!! and I will try the Son In Law Eggs sometime this week. …lol!!! 😮

    • ncma69 January 14, 2013 at 2:47 pm #

      Hmmm. May need to delete the picture of the bridge, then.
      The Son In Law Eggs are really good if you like eggs….

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